Sunday, March 3, 2024

‘What a shame’: NHRC debates if human rights are a ‘stumbling block’

Earlier today, the National Human Rights Commission in New Delhi, kickstarted its annual debate competition in collaboration with the Central Armed Police Forces and the Assam Rifles. Dignitaries including retired justice and head of the country’s top rights panel Arun Mishra were present.

What appears to have garnered sensational attention to this debate is a tweet from NHRC’s official Twitter account, releasing the topic for the debate as reproduced below:

“Are human rights a stumbling block in fighting evils like terrorism & naxalism” ?

The topic seems to be “unusual” to say the least, especially coming from a statutory public body that is technically supposed to be the watchdog of human rights violations in the country.

The tweet received a lot of engagement from Twitter users based in India. An overwhelming majority of the comments suggest that the NHRC has made a public mockery of its existence and relevance in India by making this issue a matter of debate in the first place.

Prof. Manoj Kumar Jha, Rajya Sabha member and Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Dal re-tweeted the original post stating, “What a shame @India_NHRC !!!! The topic itself is an indication of your ‘being’ and ‘becoming’… Jai Hind”

Priyamvada Gopal, an Indian-born academic and professor of post-colonial studies at the University of Cambridge responded: “This is the National Human Rights Commission of India angling to be a department at University of Austin.”

RTI activist and Trinamool Congress national spokesperson Saket Gokhale said this is how low we’ve gone down the shitter.

He said: “India’s supposedly “independent institution for protecting human rights” is debating whether “human rights are a barrier for carrying out tortures & extrajudicial killings”. Shame on you @India_NHRC . But you have none.”

While pointing out Assam Rifles, the co-host of the event, CPIML leader Kavita Krishnan said that “for Assam Rifles to host a Human Rights event is a cruel joke.”

She asked: “Dear @India_NHRC surely you know Justice Upendra enquiry commission found that personnel of @official_dgar gangraped and killed Thangjam Manorama, and that Assam Rifles is protecting the accused from facing trial?”

The public at large appears to share the same sentiments with many questioning the NHRC’s credibility in the comments section of the original tweet.

A Twitter handle by the name of @SpeakUp_World went on to tag the official Twitter account of the United Nation’s Human Rights Commission stating “ you have a very serious question from your counterpart from India”.

It is pertinent to mention here that India happens to be a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948. An excerpt from the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights is reproduced below:

“Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law”

It is perhaps troubling to view the NHRC’s outlook on human rights in light of India’s recent downgrade from a free and democratic society to “partly free” as per the latest annual report by Freedom House, an NGO that studies political freedom across the world.

This week, Maktoob published a report on how NHRC failed to adequately investigate extrajudicial killings in Uttar Pradesh.

Nilofar Absar
Nilofar Absar
Nilofar Absar, 26, is an intellectual property rights lawyer, currently practicing in New Delhi.
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